TITLE: The Shock Of The Fall
AUTHOR: Nathan Filer
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
GENRE: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
RATING: 5/5 Stars
'I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name's Simon. I think you're going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he'll be dead. And he was never the same after that.'
Debut novel about one man's descent into mental illness, following the death of his brother in childhood. Filer is a mental health nurse with a unique and startling insight into mental illness, and this book highlights a much-neglected subject.
What I Liked:
- I really liked the way that the book was put together. It told the story from the POV of Matt, a nineteen year old boy suffering with schizophrenia and trying to come to terms with his past by writing about it. Not only did it include the story (written via computer and typewriter), but various diagrams, letters and reports to give better understanding as to what was going on. It made for very interesting reading!
- The characters were so well-written and complex. Matt was an enjoyable (if slightly distracted) narrator and although it was clear that he was ill, he still came across as an intelligent, patient and funny boy. It was clear that the horrifying accident that had taken place during Matt's childhood had brought up feelings of guilt, anxiety and anger in him and his family, and I liked the way that was made clear. The interactions between characters felt very real too. I have so often read books and thought 'Nobody would ever say that/use that phrasing' but I had no problems with this book!
- Having worked as a Mental Health nurse himself, Filer clearly knew his stuff when it came to the system. The nurses in the book behaved exactly how I imagined they should and all letters/official documentation looked professional and real. Everything felt well-researched (right down to the Eastenders story-lines) and world-building like that is always much appreciated by readers like me.
What I Disliked:
- This wasn't even a major issue for me, but for readers who don't like books to jump around too much, you might need to strap yourselves in for this one. Matt is often distracted, with a short attention span. He will interrupt his story with other stories or memories or things he feels are important and hasn't told you yet. But he also has a great memory and remembers to come back to the point eventually. It was a little disorientating at first but I soon got used to it.
This, in all honesty, is probably one of the best books on the subject of Mental Health that I have ever read. I am no great reader on the subject, and so don't claim to be an expert, but if you are and you haven't read this book then I strongly recommend it. It's a unique and interesting read, with both fantastic imagination and a strong, factual basis. The characters are well-written, the story-line had me gripped from start to finish and the way it was put together coupled with how real it felt made it my favourite read of the year so far.